Savannah local Martin Schroeder was a founding member of the Savannah Motorcycle Club and an avid racer in the region throughout the teens. Schroeder held many positions within the S.M.C., but at this time he was the acting Vice President of the club. Seeing as Savannah was home to one of the country’s first Grand Prix style road courses, which was built in 1908 as an alternative to the famed Vanderbilt Cup course in Long Island, the members of the S.M.C. were naturally inclined to competition, sanctioned or not. The organization had its fair share of conflict with the national sanctioning body of the day, the F.A.M., but as the V.P. Martin helped align the club with the national organization around 1912. Savannah was then chosen to host one of the country’s first GP-style road races, The 300-Mile American Classic Championship in the winter of 1913. As a privateer Schroeder competed with roughly 50 of America’s top motorcycle racers in 1913, and for the 1914 race was selected by the Harley-Davidson Motor Company to be one of eight members of its very first fully factory supported racing team.
This photo comes in the days before Schroeder’s big debut with the Harley-Davidson factory, before he received one of Bill Ottaway’s gorgeous 11KR racing machines. This is a stripped stock 1914 which Schroeder would have acquired and prepared on his own competing as a privateer.